I’m a “fixer-upper” and so are most of my relatives. We like to take things apart, clean them, update them and fix them. Growing up, we took care of our possessions because we never knew if or when we might get a replacement.
My husband is also a fixer-upper. Together we have renovated several apartments and our house. Our home, decorated in “early American yard sale,” was built in 1906, so it needs a lot of tender loving care from fixer-uppers.
I love to discover discarded roadside treasures and fix them up or turn them into something useful. “Fix it up, use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” is a good mantra.
While some think I’m cheap – I mean frugal – I truly feel that most things made “in the good old days” were better quality and were made to last, rather than “made to be broken” as the Goo Goo Dolls say. Most people would never be able to afford things made of the same quality – if they could even find something similar. I will admit that at times, it does cost more to fix up something that is old, but most of the time the end result is worth the extra time, money and aggravation.
That said, there is no way to explain the excitement and anticipation I feel now that many people in Buffalo are finally catching the fixer-upper bug.
A while ago, I went to the Central Library where Rocco Termini was giving a lecture and tour of the Hotel @ the Lafayette. He expected 30 attendees, but closer to 300 came to see the fixer-upper project. As I walked through the unrefurbished hotel, I had a lump in my throat as I saw the neglect and horrid damage this landmark had endured. Termini has transformed it into the tremendous jewel we have today.
A few years ago, I went to a New Year’s Eve ball-drop party that was held in the Electric Tower. The lobby was under construction. There were tarps, scaffolding and dust everywhere. It was a mess. Then Iskalo Development transformed it into a wow, must-see, historic building complete with a photo gallery of the tower in the early 1900s.
A friend of mine worked in an office in the lobby of the Statler Hotel, and I went to visit her prior to the onset of renovations. The first floor was a disappointing, gloomy mess and the rest of the building looked sadly neglected, decrepit and underutilized. Now that Mark Croce has begun renovations and restorations, we have progressively seen a glimmer of what Statler City will eventually become.
I worked at a women’s fashion hat factory that was located in an old building on Seneca Street. It was an ominous, gloomy, monolithic warehouse. I didn’t know it then, but the building had been part of the Larkin Soap Co., which went out of business in the 1960s. Eventually, this warehouse and many of the surrounding deserted buildings were updated and renovated by like-minded fixer-uppers and the Larkin District has now transformed into a beautiful, exciting and fun place to be.
Each of these projects has received much-deserved news media coverage, and there are still many other unmentioned projects under way. Now, as I walk around downtown and see a deserted building, I continue to hope that it is just a matter of time before another kindred spirit joins the “fixer-upper” club.
Marilyn Fazio, who lives in Buffalo in a house built in 1906, is proud to be a member of the fixer-upper club.